SEATTLE -- While there are just three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Mariners will continue using the time they have to evaluate newcomers and see who might be part of their plans going forward.
The club added 2013 Reds first-round Draft pick Phillip Ervin to the 28-man roster on Saturday and immediately inserted him in the lineup in right field against the Rangers.
The Mariners also claimed right-handed reliever Casey Sadler from the Cubs on Saturday, but he’ll need to clear COVID-19 testing before joining the roster. Like Ervin, Sadler is out of Minor League options and thus will need to be added to the Major League roster rather than report to the alternate training site in Tacoma, Wash.
To make room for Ervin, rookie outfielder Jake Fraley was optioned back to Tacoma.
The Mariners have a number of high-profile outfield prospects, but they'll look to see if Ervin can offer some depth. The 28-year-old was the No. 27 overall pick in 2013 and has hit .250/.320/.415 with 17 home runs, 64 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 219 games over the past four seasons with Cincinnati.
Ervin hit .271 in 94 games with Cincinnati last season, but he was batting .086 in 35 at-bats in 19 games before being designated for assignment last Friday.
Ervin has a career .846 OPS against left-handers compared to .672 against righties, but he was in the lineup against a right-hander on Saturday, and Mariners manager Scott Servais said Ervin will get a shot at regular playing time in right field.
Dylan Moore has started 11 games in right field this season, but he’s now getting time at second base and left field after returning from the 10-day injured list on Friday. Mallex Smith (12 starts), Fraley (six), Tim Lopes (four) and Braden Bishop (four) have also split duties in right this year, but Smith, Fraley, Lopes and Bishop are all now at the alternate training site after combining to hit .188 with one homer and 16 RBIs in 197 at-bats in various defensive positions.
“We’re going to give Ervin an opportunity and hopefully he runs with it and we can see what we’ve got,” Servais said.
That’s the approach the Mariners are taking with numerous players in the remaining few weeks, having just acquired catcher Luis Torrens and infielder/designated hitter Ty France from the Padres, as well as several new bullpen options.
Sadler will soon be one of those relievers, as the 30-year-old posted a 2.14 ERA in 33 outings for the Dodgers and Rays last season, but he was designated for assignment by the Cubs on Tuesday after his ERA rose to 5.79 in 10 appearances this season.
• After his impressive bullpen debut in Friday’s 6-3 win, converted starter Kendall Graveman was waiting for Servais outside his office door to let him know he was ready to pitch again Saturday. But Servais said they’ll be cautious with the 29-year-old as he deals with a tumor on his neck and will likely only use him every other day at the most initially.
• Servais liked what he saw from the 24-year-old Torrens behind the plate after his first game with Seattle on Friday.
“He’s very athletic. He bounced out on a swinging bunt and handled that ball with no problem. I thought his hands were fine. He’s catching pitchers he’s never caught before, so you’re catching a [Yusei] Kikuchi, and his ball is cutting and sinking and doing things like that, I thought he handled himself really good.
“Graveman is throwing 98 mph with a nasty two-seamer coming back and he handled it fine. He’s got arm strength, an above-average arm. There’s a lot to work with there and there’s still room to grow physically. A little more bulk will help him as he goes along in his career. He checks all the boxes for what he’s going to need to do behind the plate.”
Mariners recognized Childhood Cancer Awareness Day
Saturday is Childhood Cancer Awareness Day for all 30 MLB clubs, with all players, coaches and umpires wearing gold ribbons and wristbands during the games. The Mariners also helped the cause by donating baseball-themed Starlight hospital gowns to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Seattle.
For the fifth consecutive year, MLB and its clubs raised awareness for childhood cancer during all games on Saturday for a special league-wide day in home ballparks. MLB’s “Childhood Cancer Awareness Day,” held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), combined a visual and ceremonial demonstration of support for the cause with outreach to local hospitals treating young patients in their communities. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States and Canada.
The Mariners joined all on-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires around baseball in wearing gold ribbon decals and wristbands during Saturday's game against the Rangers. Clubs also featured ceremonial activities in ballparks. Club activities included pregame ceremonies, cardboard cutouts of pediatric patients in stands at ballparks, virtual patient first pitches, virtual player hospital visits and more.
Childhood cancer awareness efforts in previous seasons have included special pediatric cancer awareness batting-practice T-shirts, online campaigns to empower fans to hold fundraisers for pediatric cancer research and donations to local children’s hospitals. MLB and its clubs have supported the fight against cancer through a variety of initiatives for many years. As Stand Up To Cancer’s founding donor, Major League Baseball has pledged more than $50 million to SU2C’s collaborative cancer research programs, providing invaluable support. Launched in 2013, the work of the Stand Up To Cancer/St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Dream Team has helped to develop new immunotherapy approaches and contributed to the development of two new treatments for difficult-to-treat pediatric leukemias that have been approved by the FDA. MLB has recognized SU2C at its jewel events since the '09 World Series.